This unusual lamp is a three-dimensional rendering of the Garden of Eden, entered up a flight of stairs and through a portal. The garden is surrounded by a fence and palm trees. In the center is the Tree of Knowledge, filled with fruit, a snake wound around its trunk. According to the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were allowed to eat the fruit of all the trees in the garden except that of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The snake, however, persuaded Eve to eat of that fruit, thereby plunging humankind into suffering and toil. Depictions of the Garden of Eden are found on one other group of Polish Hanukkah lamps in which both the Trees of Life and Knowledge appear.
The reason for the connection of this scene with the festival of Hanukkah is unclear, although the Jewish association of the menorah form with a tree goes back to the sixteenth century. At that time, the kabalist Guillaume Postel of Italy and France wrote an interpretation of the menorah seen by Moses. At one point he equated it with a tree, containing within it the body of universal man, and serving as a model for the creation of the world and its duration. Trees are also important components in Russian folk art, and depictions of the Tree of Life, and of the fruit-bearing Tree of Knowledge, are common.
The palmette motif that forms the tops of the surrounding trees is neoclassical in inspiration, thereby suggesting an early-nineteenth-century date. It may, however, have been added later.